Mikal is all about that constant hustle, but he’s much more than a ‘try-hard’ guy. He is a finalist for the NBA’s 2021-22 Defensive Player of the Year award, a lock to make an All-Defense team as one of the top 10 defenders in the league, and still carries an offensive load (career high 14.3 points per game on 53% shooting) while playing the most minutes in the entire league this year.
He’s almost certainly the best ‘4th-best’ player on any team in the league, a big reason the Phoenix Suns have a 64-17 record so far this season and will finish with at least seven more wins than the next best team in the league.
Bridges know what they have in this young star and signed him to a huge four-year extension last offseason that will pay him $90 million over the next four years.
The Hustle Award was conceived by the organization to exemplify what a great teammate looks like — one who hustles on every play of every game, and in a more memorable way than anyone else. Dan Majerle spent most of his career (1988-1995) with the Suns as part of one of the greatest Suns teams ever, making three All-Star teams along the way, but his greatest mark came as a difference-maker on effort whether he was filling up the box score or not.
The Majerle Hustle Award was introduced the year after Thunder Dan retired. Past winners include:
- 2003: Bo Outlaw
- 2004: Casey Jacobsen
- 2005: Shawn Marion
- 2006: Raja Bell
- 2007: Leandro Barbosa
- 2008: Grant Hill
- 2009: Louis Amundson
- 2010: Jared Dudley
- 2011: Grant Hill
- 2012: Sebastian Telfair
- 2013: P.J. Tucker
- 2014: P.J. Tucker
- 2015: P.J. Tucker
- 2016: P.J. Tucker
- 2017: Alan Williams
- 2018: Josh Jackson
- 2019: Mikal Bridges
- 2020: Jevon Carter
- 2021: Mikal Bridges
- 2022: Mikal Bridges
Grant Hill, P.J. Tucker and Mikal Bridges are the only multi-time winners of the award.
Bridges and his compatriots set a high bar for effort every year and it’s nice to see the team reward that effort with something to remember.
Dan Majerle’s parting thoughts when announcing Bridges as the Hustle Award winner was a loud cry to bring a championship home to Phoenix.
The Suns won the Western Conference and made the Finals last year — like Majerle’s Suns did in 1993 — and are the league’s top overall seed entering the playoffs this season.
They will begin their 2022 playoffs quest next Sunday, April 17.